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Political Parties and New Modes of Electoral Mobilisation in Comparative Perspective

Elections
 
Political Participation
 
Political Parties
 
Voting
 
Mobilisation
 
Political Engagement
 
Survey Research
 
Presenter
Rachel Gibson
University of Manchester
Authors
Pedro Magalhães
Universidade de Lisboa Instituto de Ciências Sociais
Rachel Gibson
University of Manchester
John Aldrich
Duke University

Abstract
Increasingly, parties have been able to resort to means of political mobilization in electoral campaigns that differ significantly from traditional face-to-face canvassing, the use of mail and leaflets, or phone contacts. E-mails, social media, and text messaging have largely expanded the gamut of tools available to parties to get out the vote and exercise political persuasion. In spite of many country- and election-based case studies, we have only now begun to obtain a clearer broad comparative picture of the use of these tools, with the help of the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems Module 4 on mobilization, particularly of cross-national variations in the prevalence of these new modes of mobilization and how they compare to traditional modes. However, one yet neglected aspect is related to cross-party variations. One conventional argument talks about the “bypassing” role of these new forms of political communication and mobilization: it allows opportunities to new, emerging, smaller, or simply “non-mainstream” players in party systems to connect to new constituencies, including younger voters and other groups that are difficult to target by traditional and more resource-intensive means. But what broad comparative evidence do we have of this phenomenon? Are new forms of digital and online communication levelling the playing field between mainstream/insider parties and new/outsider parties, or merely serving to reinforce existing differences? What macro-level political and societal features condition these phenomena?
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